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Authority and Obedience

It seems fitting that we read the end of RB 2, On the Kind of Person the Abbot Should Be, on the same day that we keep the feast of SS Maurus and Placid, St Benedict's exemplary disciples. Authority and obedience are intimately related but it can be "interesting" to see how they work out. For example, one may derive much quiet amusement from the kind of Catholic who invokes the Pope whenever the matter in hand is one on which he wishes to slap others down but who accuses the same Pope of heresy or worse whenever the papal line does not accord with his own. This can be tiresome when the papal champion turns out to have a very sketchy knowledge of what the Pope actually said/did/wrote, as is often the case; or when the "obedience" is so selective as to verge on the ridiculous (no examples, lest I forsake charity).

I was thinking about this recently because of the number of emails and letters which have come our way about the new translation of the Missal. Most are, frankly, ill-informed, whether "for" or "against" and show the writer to have little grasp of history or theology. (Sometimes they suggest "little Latin and less Greek" and a tin ear into the bargain, not that I am prejudiced, you understand, merely a woman of definite opinions.) The liturgy should NEVER become a source of disunity, should never become something we squabble over. It is too important for that. If you have time to read only one book about liturgy, let it be The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Ratzinger and remember that “There is no ‘pre-’ or ‘post-’ Conciliar Church. There is but one, unique Church that walks the path toward the Lord…” That surely is what authority and obedience in the Church is all about.